DVSA must keep focus on physical enforcement and not rely solely on technology such as OCRS, says senior TC

Senior traffic commissioner (TC) Beverley Bell said it is vital that the newly formed DVSA allocates enough resources to ground level enforcement activity against non-compliant operators.

Giving evidence regarding the merger of Vosa and the DSA at a Transport Committee session this week, Bell told MPs that having enforcement staff carrying out checks on the roadside and operators’ premises was far more effective than relying on software, such as the OCRS.

“OCRS is not the answer to everything,” said Bell. “It’s important to look at the intelligence that [DVSA] receives, to act on it and regularly check and make sure that operators are compliant. It is vital to actually go and visit operators. There is a real need for examiners to be out there, both at the roadside and at operator’s premises.”

She added that targeted enforcement campaigns such as intelligence-led swoops carried out by the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the DVSA on seriously non-compliant operators in the capital are a strong method of getting the message across that unscrupulous hauliers will be caught.

“When targeted work is done, the results are rewarding. It doesn’t really matter what the stats are – it is changing the culture of the individuals and operators,” said Bell. “The London exercise has shown that where there are vehicles exempt from licensing, such as volumetric mixers, we find that levels of compliance are not acceptable. For me, it’s about enforcing at ground level.”

Bell also complimented the DVSA for listening to her criticisms made to the Transport Committee last year about not doing enough to target the serially non-compliant.

“The DVSA has listened to that. Particularly through the Department for Transport-led compliance forum – where we are all working together as enforcement agencies, TCs and the trade to find out what makes operators non-compliant and also to improve levels of compliance,” said Bell.

New head of Northern Ireland transport regulation appointed

Donna Knowles as been appointed as the new head of the Northern Ireland transport regulation unit, replacing the retiring Donald Armstrong (pictured) at the end of the month.

The appointment of Knowles, who joins from the Department of Justice, was revealed at the Freight Transport Association’s transport manager conference in Belfast yesterday (27 March).

FTA policy and membership relations manager for Northern Ireland Seamus Leheny said: “[Knowles] being here today is a clear indication that she is keen to become engaged with our industry and members alike, and we look forward to working with her in the future.”

Armstrong, a career civil servant, oversaw the introduction of the new Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) in the province four years ago and later became the head of the unit.

TRU, which became operational in July 2012, has succeeded in registering and bringing more than 4,000 own-account operators in Northern Ireland into the O-licensing system.

Previously, only hire or reward operators in Northern Ireland were required to have an O-licence.